- September 13th, 2015
- Write comment
Archive for September, 2015
Piano legend Chick Corea’s second night is a rare meeting of true piano titans. For Corea, adding a second keyboard maestro to the mix has always resulted in improvisation of the highest order. Most famously, he has joined forces with fellow Miles Davis alum Herbie Hancock on a classic album and occasional tours. His partnership with Cuban piano giant Gonzalo Rubalcaba taps into the fiery Iberian region of Corea’s psyche. Rubalcaba has integrated huge swaths of the European classical and jazz traditions, while maintaining bone-deep ties to the rhythmic currents of Cuba. The pair joined forces back in the early 1990s for a thrilling concert in Japan that’s been widely seen on YouTube. A decade later, Corea invited Rubalcaba to New York City’s Blue Note as part of his epic, multi-artist 60th birthday celebration, a sensational encounter documented on the CD concert anthology Rendezvous in New York (which features their explosive medley of “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Spain”), and a DVD, Duet, that captures their entire set. Playful, rollicking, and rhythmically dazzling, Corea and Rubalcaba are like two sublimely matched dancers, testing and responding to each other’s moves with lightning reflexes and ethereal grace.
Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, “Tokyo Adagio.” (Impulse). Sublime – as much, in its way, as Haden’s duets with Keith Jarrett. Once upon a time before Cuba became a destination for any American with a passport who wanted to go there, frequent travel there seemed to be mostly for Canadians and American musicians. It was then in 1986 that Charlie Haden played a Cuban concert on the same day as the band of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Haden’s story was that he was in his dressing room when Rubalcaba began to play onstage. Haden overheard Rubalcaba solo and said “who is THAT?” Rubalcaba had just come back from playing in the Soviet Union. He didn’t even speak English yet. Through a translator Haden told him “we have to play together.” And they did the next day. When Haden got back to the U.S., according to Rubalcaba’s notes here, he said to Bruce Lundvall, then at Blue Note, “you gotta sign this kid. He lives in Cuba.” And so Lundvall did. This gorgeous ballad recital was recorded live in Tokyo in 2008. Writes Haden’s widow, Ruth Cameron-Haden “Charlie often said to me and others, that he was an ‘adagio’ guy.” Listen to these adagios here – in particular a masterful version of David Raksin’s almost hidden masterwork “My Love and I” – and you know this is a jazz duet for the ages. Before his death was hastened by post-polio syndrome, Haden made it known that he wanted these tapes released. He couldn’t have been more right. They’re marvelous. ◊◊◊◊ (Jeff Simon)